CINCINNATI -- "Yeah! My player's an All-Star!"
That's what you wanted to think when you saw his name on the roster, but really, you just wondered what Ned Yost and Bruce Bochy were thinking. I mean, yeah, he's been good, but you've never really felt good about him.
It's still cause for celebration. When a player makes an All-Star team, it reinforces the idea that he's one of the best in game, so while you may not feel good about him, his numbers have new credibility in the eyes of many.
Which makes right now, with the honor newly bestowed, the perfect time to shop him.
But of course, the idea is to sell high. If you can trade a player who makes you uncomfortable for an equivalent player who doesn't, you're unloading risk and reducing the chance of having the rug pulled out from under you. But if you unload him in a panic move just because you don't understand how he's doing what he's doing, you're forfeiting any potential reward.
Let's consider five of the All-Stars most likely to make you uncomfortable and just how likely they are to sustain their numbers.
Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees
I don't buy what Teixeira is selling. He tried hard to sell the idea that his renewed production this year was a simple matter of health when I talked to him before the Home Run Derby on Monday,.
"This is the best I've felt in years, and it's been really great for me to be able to go out there and not have to worry about my wrist," he said. "It's just great to be back and not have to worry about treatment and being sore and not being able to take your normal swing. Those kind of things kind of wear on you during the season."
I don't doubt there's some truth to that. He has been able to stay on the field for the first time in three years, and he has homered at a better pace than the previous two.
But at a better pace than ever? At age 35? Something seems unsustainable about that, and even he acknowledges that a 40-homer season, which he's on pace to achieve, isn't the most likely scenario.
"I've only done it once," he said. "It's hard. Forty home runs is really hard."
Here's the problem: Such a high percentage of his hits are home runs -- he has less than half as many singles as Jose Abreu, to put it in perspective -- that if they do fall off, what's left? It's not like he's going to trade off home runs for singles, not with the his approach to the infield shift.
"With the way that the defensive shifts are going and how good these defenses are these days, I said my goal was to hit more home runs, hit more doubles and walk more," he said. "You don't try to hit ground balls, so that's really the only way to do it. If you worry about the shift, you're going to take the power out of you're game. I don't even worry about it."
Teixeira's batting average is only .240 as it is. If some of those home runs begin turning into outs -- and the law of averages says they will -- not only do you lose the home runs themselves, but you may be left with just a .200 hitter.
DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Rockies
LeMahieu offered a pretty good explanation for why he has been so much more reliable this year.
"I think this is the first year where I just tried to stay within myself the whole year," he said Monday. "I always wanted to be that power guy. I always wanted to hit homers, but for me to be successful and to help our team, that's not what I needed to do."
He also gave some reason to believe he may be able to sustain a higher-than-usual BABIP, pointing out that he's an all-fields hitter who plays half his games at a park with a lot of outfield ground to cover. To put it another way, the balls that don't carry over the fence at Coors Field have a better chance of falling in than they would at most other parks.
Still, a .373 BABIP seems a bit much.
LeMahieu looked like he was beginning to regress to the mean in late June and early July, enduring an 8-for-67 (.119) slump that dropped his season-long batting average under .300 for the first time all year. But he has gone 15 for 32 (.469) in eight games since, giving you one last opportunity to maximize your return.
Because while he may be better off not hitting for power, Fantasy owners are still better off with a second baseman who does.
Shelby Miller, SP, Braves
When Miller began the year with a 1.48 ERA, he had his share of detractors who mainly took exception to his reduced strikeout rate. But it seemed like the logical next step for a pitcher continuing his metamorphosis from a swing-and-miss type to a more efficient pitch-to-contact type. After all, he had a 2.96 ERA over his final 12 starts last year despite averaging 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings during that stretch, and he did it by leaning on his sinker and cutter more than his curveball.
"When I first started throwing the sinker and toying the cutter a little bit more, it was specifically to try to be more efficient and go deeper into games because I was that guy that kind of threw a lot of fastballs and was out of there in five innings. As a starting pitcher that's the exact opposite thing you need to do," he said Monday. "I didn't think I'd have this much success with it, but those two pitches have been the key to my year so far for sure."
Granted, a 2.96 ERA isn't a 1.48 ERA, and none of this explains why he has a 3.66 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in eight starts since the beginning of June, going less than six innings in half of them. That's hardly efficient pitching, so perhaps it's no surprise that he has averaged about a strikeout per inning during that stretch.
"The strikeouts are good when they present themselves, if you've got a guy 0-2 or 1-2," he said, "but my motto is I try to get a guy out on three or less pitches."
Good motto, and I get the sense Miller is generally on the right track, which should eventually lead to great things for a pitcher with his stuff. But the inconsistency, not just with the ERA and innings but the underlying numbers, tells me he's still figuring himself out, right down to pitch selection. He hasn't ruled out featuring his curveball again in the future, which could take him down a completely new path, either good or bad.
"That's something I'll use more," he said. "I haven't thrown it as much, but I'll start throwing it more for sure ... probably."
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
Is Moustakas a better player than last year? I think at this point, that's obvious. But some question remains as to how good he is.
The story we've gotten since the first week of the season is that he has made a more conscious effort to hit the ball the other way, and for the most part, he's still doing that. But just as critical to him hitting .356 in April compared to .271 since is that, back in April, he was hitting lefties for the first time in his career. Now, he's down to a .237 batting average and .639 OPS against them -- and that's for the season, so it's been even worse over the last 2 1/2 months.
The biggest tradeoff to hitting the ball to all fields is reduced power. Moustakas is on pace for only 13 home runs, and he seems to accept it.
"I don't really care," he said Monday. "As long as we're winning ball games, that's all that matters."
But for Fantasy owners to accept it at a position as deep as third base, Moustakas needs to bring something else to the table. He's no base stealer and has never been a particularly patient hitter, so he probably needs to hit .300 or better to measure up in mixed leagues. Because left-handers still have his number, I don't see it happening.
Since the end of April, Moustakas has been only the 31st-best third baseman in Head-to-Head points leagues, and again, his batting average during that stretch is more believable than his .356 mark in April. That's not a good omen for the second half.
Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants
Crawford might be the hardest of these players to move because, really, who can you trust at shortstop? Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Correa and Jose Reyes, sure, but you're not getting any of them. Jhonny Peralta, maybe? Still a long shot.
The good news is his power surge hasn't been confined to just the first two months of the season, as was the case in 2013 and 2014. After looking like he was coming down to earth for most of June, he has homered three times in his last 12 games.
And he has a pretty simple explanation for the improved power.
"I think it just comes from a more consistent approach, just an effort to try to hit the ball harder," he said Monday. "As a younger player, I think I was worried more about making contact and not striking out."
Which isn't to say he's trying to hit home runs. He's just not as content to slap the ball over the infielders' heads.
"I think my approach this year has been a little more consistent," he said. "I've been able to stay up the middle a little bit more this year, and I think that will help to be able to drive the ball where in the past I might have tried to pull for power too much, and then I'm pulling off the ball and I pop up or ground out a little bit more than I want."
The stats all seem to back it up. According to FanGraphs.com, he's both hitting the ball to center field more than ever and making hard contact more than ever. BaseballHeatMaps.com has him ninth in average fly-ball distance, ahead of Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Bryce Harper and Ryan Braun, to name a few. Last year, he was 152nd.
Is he a sell-high? I guess if you want to play it safe, technically, yes, he can only go down from here. But if your alternative at shortstop is some Alexei Ramirez-level scrub, you may just want to take Crawford's word for it.